Flames Fall at Pittsburgh in Season Opener

Junior guard Zavion Neely
Junior guard Zavion Neely

Nov. 10, 2010

Final Stats

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PITTSBURGH - Senior center K.C. Robbins came off the bench to score 12 first-half points, and five other Flames tallied their first-career points, but the UIC men's basketball team saw host Pittsburgh shoot 70 percent from the field in the second half, as the No. 4/5 Panthers cruised to a 97-54 win in the Flames' season opener at the Petersen Events Center Wednesday night.

Robbins' 12 first-half points, just two off his career-high, came on a 6-of-8 effort from the field in the opening frame. After falling behind by 18 points with just over 5:00 remaining in the first stanza, the Flames trimmed the lead to 14 points (43-29) at halftime. But the Panthers, playing their second game of the season, out-scored UIC in the second half, 54-25.

Pitt held a 45-25 advantage on the boards, and four players scored in double figures, led by Ashton Gibbs' 24 points. Brad Wanamaker added 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. UIC senior guard Robo Kreps scored seven points, while senior forward Paul Carter, junior guard Zavion Neely and junior guard Daniel Barnes all chipped in with six.

"You have to give Pittsburgh credit; they came out with a fierce, competitive effort," said head coach Howard Moore. "We did some good things early - we disrupted some of their sets, and got some stops in certain situations. But they (Pitt) hurt us on the glass, and we got into a hole, which grew to 14 points at halftime.

"In the second half, we tried to come out with some energy, but we just didn't have it. They really capitalized on that. I told our guys after the game that our season didn't end tonight. We've got some good teaching points to work from off the film. We've got to do a better job of sticking with the game plan and staying true to our principles, what we teach on a daily basis. I told them we've got to compete, and we'll be fine. This was a good wake-up call for our guys. We've got some resilient kids; they are hungry, and willing to get better. They'll bounce back from this."

Senior forward Brad Birton tallied UIC's first two field goals, as the Panthers led 9-4 at the first media timeout (15:58). After Pittsburgh built its lead to 22-6, the Flames charged back to cut the lead to 12 (28-16) with 7:37 remaining. Robbins tallied three-consecutive field goals between the 6:07 and 4:13 mark, as the Flames cut the lead to 41-29 with 1:07 remaining in the first half. Wanamaker scored with 49 seconds left in the frame, pushing the lead to 43-29 at the break.

The Panthers opened the second half on a 14-4 run, and claimed a 57-33 lead with 14:46 remaining. UIC responded with a 6-3 run, pulling with 60-40 with 12:17 remaining, but could draw no closer. The Flames pulled their starters with just over six minutes remaining, and were out-scored 21-10 down the stretch.

Carter, Darrin Williams, Barnes, Matt Bush and Dorian Tyler all scored their first-career points in the game, and Williams recorded his first-career start. Barnes' six points came on two three-pointers in the first half, while Bush went 2-of-2 from the field.

UIC will play its home opener next Monday (Nov. 15) against Roosevelt; tip-off from the UIC Pavilion is set for 7:30 p.m. The Flames will resume action in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches versus Cancer next Friday (Nov. 19) when they take on host Toledo at Savage Arena.